Blood pressure is a test done to determine the pressure of the blood against the walls of blood vessels. This pressure is determined by how the heart pumps, the resistance to blood flow in the small arteries, the elasticity of the walls of the main arteries, how much blood is present and the blood viscosity or thickness.
Problems from high blood pressure arise when a blood vessel gets too small for the high pressure flow going through it. Blood pressure monitoring in dogs and cats will become more common as time goes on. At present there are some problems with equipment and there does not seem to be a clear consensus on blood pressure normal values.
Blood pressure measurement is performed similarly to the way it is in humans. An inflatable cuff is fit snuggly around the foot or foreleg of the pet. Sometimes the base of the tail can be used. The cuff is inflated so as to occlude blood flow through the superficial artery.
Blood pressure is checked on any pet that is suspected of having high or low pressure. This includes pets with heart disease, kidney disease, sudden onset of blindness, recent trauma, or other severe illness. Other causes of abnormal blood pressure include diseases of the endocrine system, tumors of the adrenal gland, medications and central nervous system disorders.
Blood pressure is often monitored while a pet is under anesthesia. Although not measured as commonly as in people, blood pressure assessment is becoming a more important monitoring tool in veterinary medicine.
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